The New Landlord

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. (Romans 7:4-6 ESV)

Larry Christenson, in his work The Renewed Mind, describes it this way:

Let’s say that you live in an apartment under a demanding landlord. The rent has to be paid on time, every time, and if you’re a moment late, you’re penalized. Every month, it seems, the rent increases. Your landlord comes into your apartment at will and checks to see that all is perfectly arranged—he keeps a clean house.

One day you hear the news. Someone has come in and bought the apartment complex. You meet your new landlord and to your surprise discover that you don’t even have to pay rent. It’s free! You never have to undergo the meticulous inspections again. This landlord visits you, sometimes dropping by just for an occasional chat. He brings you things He thinks you need. You don’t know how to act.

Then one day, you hear a knock on the door. It’s a familiar knock—you know it too well. You go to the door, knowing who’s standing there. It’s your old landlord. And before you know it, you’re opening the door. He’s demanding payment, even though he does not own the apartment complex. Without thinking, because you’ve done it for so many years, you pay up—money you don’t even owe him!

You don’t have to open the door. The old landlord, the law, has no right in your home. He can exact no payment from you. You have a new landlord, who is also your friend.

You belong to another.

The Believer’s Ledger

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:8-11 ESV)

Jesus died once and will never die again. Why? His death was no ordinary death. He died receiving God’s wrath against sin. Consider the guilt you have felt over some ridiculous sin you’ve committed…again. Multiply that guilt by billions of sinners who have lived through all the millennia: Jesus experienced at once that multiplied guilt. His death was no ordinary death. The physical weight of the cross paled in comparison to the moral weight of your sin on his shoulders.

Jesus’s work didn’t stop with his death. But the life he lives he lives to God. He now mediates on behalf of all believers. He was single-minded in his death and he is now single-minded in his life.

We must be too.

When we received Christ as our Savior, we died to sin. That one act of faith didn’t finish the work. We have a day-to-day, and sometimes moment-to-moment, responsibility: consider yourselves dead to sinThe word consider is an accounting term: it means to write it down in the debit or credit column. Here we have an entry for both sides. Every day in the debit column we write: dead to sin. But we don’t stop there. In the credit column we write: alive to God! The name of the account at the top of the ledger: Jesus Christ. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

debit credit

What kind of balance does this yield? A victorious Christian life.

This is what it means to consider yourself dead to sin and alive to Christ. No emotional fanfare. Some days you will not feel “saved.” Some days you will battle harder against sin than others. Every day your thinking must be on point: you are dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. That’s who you are! That’s the believer’s ledger.

I Did Not Know

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4 ESV)

For the first 17 years of my Christian life I did not know.

Here’s what I did not know:

  • I did not know that I was baptized into Jesus’s death.
  • I did not know that I was buried with Jesus in his burial.
  • I did not know that I was resurrected with Jesus in his resurrection.

I did not know. I’ve told this before (and it’s really embarrassing, but true). For several years I drove a Chevy S-10 that had a 3rd door. chevyred-754828Behind the driver’s door was a 3rd door! For years, when Trent wanted to ride with me, he would climb behind my seat into the back and sit on the fold-down chair. I never saw the door handle to the 3rd door. It was hidden in plain sight. That’s embarrassing.

But it’s more embarrassing to admit that for 17 years of my Christian life, I battled sin in my own power because I was ignorant. I was ignorant of this reality: when I trusted Jesus as my Savior (baptized into Christ Jesus) I was immersed in his death. My old sinful nature died that day. Death isn’t fun. My sinful nature hasn’t been happy ever since. As a matter of fact, every day my sinful nature (flesh) tries to rear its ugly head, tries to convince me to satisfy its desires, tries to deceive me into thinking I can be satisfied by its desires.

Death is devastating unless there’s a resurrection in the future! I did not know that I was baptized into Jesus’s death. And I did not know that I was buried with Jesus in his burial. And of course I did not know that I was resurrected with Jesus. That’s right!

How was Jesus raised from the dead? “By the glory of the Father.” That’s a loaded statement…one that this blog won’t allow today–tomorrow we will delve into it. Here’s what I didn’t know. I didn’t know that the death of my sinful nature had lead to the resurrection of a new man in Christ…one not bound by sin, one not under the sway of the world, one not gripped by the power of temptation.

Lamar Silver showed me the 3rd door on my truck. Chuck Swindoll, in his sermon series on Romans 1-8, opened a whole new vista into what it means to walk by grace, to be raised to life by the Spirit, to live an entirely new life.

Now I know. And I have choice. Climb over the seat to get to the back of the Chevy S-10…or open the 3rd door.